Former Anchorage father, son accused of laundering money for Iran
As a South Korean businessman and former Anchorage resident remains embroiled in allegations that he helped launder over $1 billion for the Iranian government, federal authorities say his son is making a guilty plea to similar federal charges.
U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder’s office announced this week that 45-year-old Mitchell Zong was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
A 2016 Politico story said federal agents raided Mitchell Zong’s Southern California home after he married in August 2012, seizing a $40,000 sapphire wedding set in addition to $24,000 in cash as part of a civil-forfeitures case targeting his father, Kenneth Zong.
According to Politico, Kenneth Zong raised four children in Anchorage in the 1980s, trying his hand at the city’s construction, real-estate and restaurant markets. The elder Zong eventually moved to South Korea, where prosecutors say he began transferring as much as $109 million a day in 2011 into bank accounts the country used to pay for Iranian oil – a scheme allegedly facilitated by bribing regulators.
Prosecutors told Politico that Mitchell Zong had attended Colorado State University with the brother of Houshang Farsoudeh, one of three Iranian businessmen with alleged links to other Iranian money-laundering schemes spanning from the nation of Georgia to the United Arab Emirates.
Schroder’s office said both Zongs are accused of money transfers in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transaction and Sanctions Regime. From September 2013 through April 2014, prosecutors said, Mitchell Zong “conspired with others to commit money laundering violations in excess of $10,000.”
In a Tuesday filing, prosecutors and Mitchell Zong’s attorney ask U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess to consider “a signed plea agreement” from the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki, who is prosecuting the case against Mitchell Zong, declined to provide detail about the violations involved or what the plea agreement might entail. Mitchell Zong was only charged and never arrested, Skrocki said, but Kenneth is still answering foreign allegations in the alleged scheme.
“The father, he’s in custody in South Korea,” Skrocki said.
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